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Melissa McGraw Melissa McGraw (2 Posts)

CEO/Creative Director of The Fashion Potential. During her fifteen years working in the New York City fashion industry, Melissa McGraw rose through the fashion ranks managing million dollar accounts ranging from Amazon.com to Neiman Marcus and for companies that include Calvin Klein Jeans, Cynthia Rowley, Rocawear, Nicole Miller, and Joe’s Jeans. Melissa was also an instrumental force in the successful launch of the Harajuku Lovers and L.A.M.B. handbag brands by Gwen Stefani. In 2007, Melissa co-created the popular women’s website Workchic. Melissa has been a guest writer/contributor/blogger for Marie Claire, Style Network, Shop it to me, and Shecky’s to just name a few. You can also find Melissa giving out style advice on ABC/HDTV weekly series- Mirror/Mirror. She also is an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. A true entrepreneur by nature, in 2010, Melissa sold Workchic and created The Fashion Potential. The Fashion Potential was created to show aspiring fashionistas how to target and gain the right clients, stand out from their competition, reach their financial goals, and create a buzz around their brands. The Fashion Potential teaches emerging and aspiring fashion designers whether they are just starting out or are already out of the starting gate- all of the tips and tricks they will need to know in order to create a successful brand that is not only desirable to a retail buyer but to a consumer as well. The Fashion Potential offers one-on-one consultation and coaching as well as online workshops for those that prefer to work at their own pace. The Fashion Potential is the place to learn about fashion the right way!

5 Ways to Boost Sales on Your Website

5 Ways to Boost Sales on Your Website

My website has traffic, but why isn’t anyone buying anything? Do you find yourself saying this to yourself over and over? I have learned that there are some common mistakes emerging designers make when building a website that may cause them to lose sales without even realizing it. That’s the last thing you want to happen with the holidays right around the corner!

Here are five important tips that you’ll want to implement on your e-commerce site just in time for the holiday rush!

1. Product Descriptions
Product descriptions on a website replace those of a sales associate in a department store or boutique. Did you know one of the main reasons visitors exit a fashion website is due to lack of sizing information? Make sure you list sizing, materials or fabrication, country of origin for starters. That way your customers won’t leave your site asking those questions. Remember you want to put their mind at ease so they don’t have to go to the store to try it on!

2. Offer free shipping to your customers.

If you afford to do so, here are some creative ways you can offer free shipping:

  • Free shipping — to members only. If you have a membership based website or exclusive members this may work for you. Think Amazon Prime. You pay an annual fee to join the ‘club,’ and then your shipping is free.
  • Free shipping with a minimum order size. This one has been making customers buy one more item than they really need but it works!
  • Free site-to-store shipping. This offer one is gaining momentum especially with big chain retailers that have many locations. If you own a boutique this could be an important edge over your local competition!
  • Free return shipping. Nearly everyone does this in apparel. Otherwise, there’s basically no other way to get you to buy the stuff via catalog or online.
  • Flat-rate shipping. OK yes, it’s not completely free, but it sometimes represents a substantial discount over what consumers might have paid for shipping otherwise. So part of the shipping cost is free, and the cost is contained at one low rate can prevent unhappy customers that were shocked over their shipping charges.

3. Who doesn’t like a freebie?
Adding value to a purchase is a great way to have customers return back to your website and also tell others what gift they got for free– it will go a long way.

4. Stock Availability
It is important that the availability of an item be communicated to the customer early in the purchasing process. If the product is out of stock, let the customers know when it is going to be available. Maybe recommend some similar products that they would be interested in if they don’t want to wait.

5. Offer a Contest or Event
A website contest can be an incredible marketing success if you take the time to figure out your goals, develop an easy contest so that both parties benefit, control the cost of your prizes and promote the contest for maximum exposure.

Here’s to a successful holiday season! Happy Selling!

Original image created by marioanima.

Speaking of contests and events, check out Alexandra Genco’s post: How to Win When Running a Sweepstakes!


Posted in: Retail Education

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How to Make Sure Your Prices are Right

How to Make Sure Your Prices are Right

I admit it, I am guilty. I have caught myself numerous times on shopping excursions saying to myself” “How did they come up with this price?” Why is a pair of plain cotton pants priced $60 at the Gap and then priced $200+ at the department store right down the block? Both labels read 100% cotton. The silhouette is the same. So if the fabric is the same shouldn’t the price be the same? Well, not necessarily and I’ll explain why.

I always like referencing this New York Times aptly titled article “Why Does This Pair of Pants Cost $550?” to emerging designers. The article analyzes the pricing process:

“The cost of creating those things has nothing to do with the price,” said David A. Aaker, the vice chairman of Prophet, a brand consulting firm. “It is all about who else is wearing them, who designed them and who is selling them.”

Yet, from the designers’ perspective, there is value to be found in pants that are thoughtfully designed with high-quality materials and labor.

So if you are just starting to design your collection here are some important tips to remember when it comes to pricing your collection:

1. Does your product look like it will cost? Keep in mind your competition and what they are pricing their items for. It is all about perception and value.

2. What is it going to cost you to make the item? Are you making your item or collection in smaller quantities? Are they made by hand? I love how this excerpt taken from the article breaks down the pricing process below:

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Mr. Sternberg’s (Band of Outsiders) khakis are tailored like dress pants, and the details are largely sewn by hand, including buttonholes and split waistbands, which can be altered easily. The fabric, which costs $24 a yard, plus $3 a yard to import, is a cotton gabardine fine enough to withstand basting stitches. About two yards, counting for boo-boos and such, is used to make a pair of pants, so the fabric cost is $54.

At Martin Greenfield, a union shop where employees earn about $13 an hour, before benefits, it takes an average of four hours of labor to make a pair of pants. The pants pass through the hands of at least 20 people in the process of cutting fabric, adding pockets and building out a fly. So with labor and fabric, the cost to make Mr. Sternberg’s pants was about $110 — a fifth of what they cost in a store.

The final price reflects the markups of the designer and the retailer, what they charge to cover expenses, pay their employees and, with luck, make a profit on what sells to cover the losses on what does not. Mr. Sternberg doubles the cost to arrive at a wholesale price of $220. The retailer adds another markup, typically a factor of 2.5, which brings us to $550.

3. Does the pricing of one item in your collection make sense with the rest of your collection?

So how much is too much? The bottom line ties all back to point #1: it is all about perceived value. No matter how much your fabric was, or how much your item cost to produce– if it doesn’t look like the price you are asking it will be a hard sell to the consumer from the very beginning! Also remember you want to make a profit. Can you double your cost– a retail pricing term also known as keystone– and arrive at a wholesale price that makes sense? If not, you may want to look into the construction of the item: Can you buy cheaper buttons or rivets? Change from silver to burnished brass hardware? Find a less expensive factory? Granted you don’t want to compromise the quality, but you want to make sure you are making a profit!

Here’s a formula for you to remember:
[CMT (Cut, Make, Trim) + Fabric Cost + Any Extra Cost] x 2 = Wholesale Price 
This will be your wholesale price to retail buyers. You will then need to mark up from that wholesale price to estimate your retail price based on the formula below:
Wholesale Price X 2.2 – 2.5 = MSRP (Manufactured Suggested Retail Price)

Keep in mind if this formula doesn’t fit with your brand try to go back and cut costs. Can you purchase different buttons or rivets, zippers, rings, or lining? Can you research a different factory? Figure out possible changes in how you spend your money.

Happy Selling!
- @MelissaMcGraw

Top Image created by Geneva Vanderzeil

Posted in: Retail Education

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